Artist Book Project PL


untitled (belt & suspenders – book dummy 1) by Douglas Stockdale

Well this ought to be the most boring photograph that I have or maybe ever will post.

This year my summer photographic project has been very interesting; to self-publish a limited edition (photographic) artist book. Actually a very fun project without dead lines while just working out some ideas. I want to tie up the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) before I reveal the title, I have been calling this Project PL, incorporating the initials of the proposed book title.

This project has provided a lot of learning experiences while I work out my book design. In this particular instance, it is the development of the outside case for this artist book. For a limited edition book, I have always thought that these should have some kind of outside cover; slipcover at a minimum to perhaps best, a clamshell box.

So a couple of years ago at PhotoLA, Hiroshi Watanabe and I had an opportunity to spend some time with  Raymond Meeks. He is developing some interesting photographic artist books, but in the process, he also constructs an outside container that he quickly assembles that incorporates something that holds and preserves his fragile objects. It was interesting, but a design that I did not feel that I could build.

So while working on my first draft of book dummy for the Project PL, I realized that I needed an outside shell to hold the contents. Thinking back to Meeks and his outer case, I decided to borrow on his concept and came up with an idea for a deign that I might be able to easily construct. So off to Lowe’s Hardware store and a couple of artist supply stores with my conceptual design list. I found some components that allowed me to build the first prototype, but I quickly figured out some needed changes to downsize the size of the frame (dowls) and strength the frame using a different wood.

So when I realize that I had the conceptual idea figured out, my project was at a point that I considered it to be complete enough to construct the first book dummy. So with the materials of construction pretty well defined, I was still incorporating belt and suspenders for the baes as I was unsure of how strong the wood glue that I was using would be able to protect my interior book and parts.

So after letting the glue almost dry while building this outside case, I then used a stable gun to drive some 3/8″ staples into each corner to really ensure the base was on tight and would be strong enough. I quickly figured out that I needed only one of these staples per corner to do the job.

When I needed to tweak the overall design a little, I started developing my book dummy #2. But now I had spent enough time with the book dummy #1 that I decided that this outside case with the staples was (1) probably overkill and (2) did not look very elegant (okay, just plain ugly). Also, if I did not drive those staples in far enough, this outside case (3) could be a hazard to other books sharing the book shelf space.

So when I finished the gluing of the bottom cover to the wood frame for the second dummy, I let the base dry without adding the staples. Bingo! The wood glue was sufficient as it appeared that I would destroy the bottom base before I could get it to separate from the wood frame. Added bonus, while sorting this design aspect out, I came up with a great idea of how to make this outer case look even better with a wrap-around and glued cover flap.

As I shared with another photographer over these past couple of days, this aspect of the book design process is really fun and interesting.



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